Latest investments to provide another boost for the bush

5-minute read
Today’s announcement of a $750 million investment in the nbn® Fixed Wireless network – $480 million from the Australian Government and $270 million from nbn – is another great step for connectivity in the bush and will help to meet the growing needs of regional communities.

Since the roll out of the nbn® network, connectivity in regional Australia has changed drastically and delivered significant benefits to those living and working in regional Australia. Even the most remote parts of our country can access reliable broadband1, which has brought with it social and economic opportunities for many.

Children and tertiary students alike are using broadband like never before to access online resources for research, assignments and collaboration. Farmers are utilising connectivity to do more things digitally in even more remote places – from using sensors to monitor water troughs to trading their livestock. As populations in our regional areas grow, connectivity is supporting more people to work and run their businesses. 

We have seen broadband demand grow rapidly across regional and remote Australia. In its recent report, the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee2 found there has been a step-change in demand for data and broadband capacity in rural and regional areas.

Even when nbn completed the initial build in 2020, we knew the job in regional Australia wasn’t over and that investment in regional broadband would continue. We have been listening to communities telling us that they needed more – more coverage, more data and more speed.

Today’s announcement is great news for regional Australia and the thousands of homes and businesses that are set to benefit from the program.

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The investment forms a part of the response to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review2, which recommended enhancements to nbn® Fixed Wireless and Satellites services.
Today’s announcement is great news for regional Australia and the thousands of homes and businesses that are set to benefit from the program.

Here’s how:

  1. Extended Fixed Wireless: Enhanced coverage and extended maximum range limit for some nbn®  Fixed Wireless towers resulting in expansion of the Fixed Wireless footprint coverage by up to 50 per cent enabling approximately 120,000 formerly satellite-only eligible premises to access Fixed Wireless services.
  2. Faster Fixed Wireless wholesale speeds3: Following consultation and launch, nbn proposes that homes and businesses in the expanded nbn® Fixed Wireless footprint will be able to order retail services via their service provider over nbn’s wholesale tiers proposed to offer potential maximum wholesale download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. nbn is aiming that up to an anticipated 85 per cent of the expanded footprint will also be able to order services with potential maximum wholesale download speeds of up to 250 Mbps, which is up to three times faster than the highest wholesale speeds available today.
  3. Improve Fixed Wireless typical wholesale busy hour speeds4: Fixed Wireless network improvements are expected to allow nbn to implement a new measure to indicate the network’s capability to achieve ‘typical wholesale busy period speeds’ of at least 50 Mbps (download).
  4. Enhanced data limits and network performance on nbn® Sky Muster: For the homes and businesses that remain on the nbn® Sky Muster™ satellite service, nbn is proposing to unmeter nbn® Sky Muster™ Plus data for the majority of the day with the off-peak period for unmetered data increasing to 16 hours (12am-4pm) per day, from the current six-hour window (1am-7am). This is anticipated to be applied from mid 2022. In addition, for regular Sky Muster™, nbn is aiming to increase average monthly data allowances to 55 Gigabytes (GB), increasing to 90 GB once the Fixed Wireless upgrade is complete in around two and a half years’ time. 
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For households across regional Australia, these improvements will make it easier to work remotely, access digital services as well as connect with loved ones and access entertainment. For businesses, it will be easier to participate in the digital and global economy and to benefit from innovative technology, such as the Internet of Things and smart farming.

Information about when, where, and how these improvements will be rolled out will be available over the coming months. We have started our detailed planning, and once that is complete, we expect the rollout to take around two and a half years (subject to further assessment through the detailed planning process).

Information about when, where, and how these improvements will be rolled out will be available over the coming months.

This investment is just a part of our commitment to lifting the digital capability of people across regional and remote Australia. In September 2020, we announced a $4.5 billion network investment program that would deliver up to 2 million homes and businesses currently on Fibre to the Node technology on demand upgrades for Fibre to the Premises. Of the 1.6 million premises announced to date under this program around half are in regional Australia.

We have also rolled out more than 100 nbn® Business Fibre Zones across regional Australia. Delivering our fastest business grade fibre – business nbn® Enterprise Ethernet – to businesses across regional Australia at no upfront build cost to the customer’s internet provider and at the same wholesale prices as those in the city central business districts when they order an eligible plan.

This investment comes at a time when it has never been more important for Australians – no matter where they live or work – to be connected. 

You can read full details of the announcement here.

1 Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn® network, depends on the nbn® access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside nbn’s control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plan, signal reception, and (with the exception of Sky Muster™ Plus) how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn® Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Satellite end customers may also experience latency.

2 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review | Australian Government Regional Telecommunications Review (rtirc.gov.au)

3 nbn is a wholesaler and end customers should contact their preferred service provider to ask about availability. Any new speed tiers or changes to Fixed Wireless products is subject to consultation with industry which may alter the design, contractual terms, product specifications and/or go-to-market approach. The planned wholesale download speeds for Fixed Wireless Home Fast and Fixed Wireless Home Superfast are potential maximum Information Rates. They are not Peak Information Rates or Committed Information Rates. nbn expects it will operate similarly to how the Fixed Wireless Plus product operates today but with potential maximum wholesale speeds up to 100 Mbps for Fixed Wireless Home Fast and up to 250 Mbps Fixed Wireless Home Superfast.

4 This measure will be an estimate based on a sample of nbn® Fixed Wireless wholesale services and will measure the average speed at certain points in each hour of the busy period between 7-11pm to identify a ‘typical busy period speed’, in line with the methodology outlined in the ACCC’s Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance Paper (October 2020). For each sample measured it will take into account factors outside of nbn’s control such as environmental impact on radio signal strength, but will not take into account retail level, in-premises or user factors that could impact the end user service. Actual end user speeds will differ as a number of factors influence this, including the particular end user applications in use at the time, end user equipment and software, and the number of concurrent users on the nbn® Fixed Wireless service. This means that this measure is not the same as, but is likely to be similar to, the connection’s capability (if retail level and end user influences are minimal). Currently nbn publicly reports on a network design metric that influences its cell upgrade program (which prioritises cells for upgrades to ensure a minimum 30 day average busy hour wholesale download speed of 6Mbps on at least 99% of cells), but which is not referable to end user experience.